SOMETIMES you need an almighty kick in the musical mind to be reminded how good Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club is. It’s simply the best music venue in London. By a country mile.
One of the main reasons for its success is that bands want to perform there. So Ronnie’s can pick the crème de la crème. On Monday night, the crème floated to the top deliciously as the Stacey Brothers’ Big Band Steely Dan Project: The Royal Scammers came to town. Boy did they perform. Boy did they live up to expectation.
What a night. What a joyous occasion as Jeremy and Paul Stacey (twins) celebrated their 58th birthday with a trip down memory lane. A homage to the brilliant music that Steely Dan made in the 1970s.
Supported by a multitude of talented backing singers, a superb lead vocalist in Andy Caine, a thrilling brass section, and keyboards galore, the Staceys delivered in spectacular style. While drummer Jeremy quietly conducted proceedings, it was Paul who entranced the audience with a masterclass on guitar. Electrifying.
With Ronnie’s packed to the rafters (despite the early 6.30pm start), it was a throwback to pre pandemic days (bar the masks worn by overworked staff). The atmosphere crackled as the Staceys took us back to the 1970s.
Of course, it was the rendition of Steely Dan favourites that were most rapturously received. The likes of Babylon Sisters (infused with super backing vocals, a mighty dose of Paul Stacey’s guitar and the masterful trumpet of Dominic Glover) and Dirty Work where Sumudu Jayatilaka and Claire Marshall took over lead vocals to superb effect. Andy Ross’s saxophone tingled spinal cords as Jayatilaka and Marshall purred away.
Peg, Kid Charlemagne, Deacon Blues (‘I crawl like a viper through these suburban streets’) and a thrilling Aja as the finale also reminded the audience what a mighty songbook Walter Becker and Donald Fagen created.
Yet this was no tribute night. Rikki Don’t Lose That Number, Reelin’ In The Years and Hey Nineteen were notable absentees as the Staceys showcased some of Steely Dan’s lesser known work: My Rival (more gems from Stacey’s weeping guitar), Glamour Profession, Time Out of Mind (‘I love it,’ professed Andy Caine), Black Guitar and a mind-blowing Green Earrings (taken from Royal Scam, from which the Stacey brothers’ band take their name).
What is wonderful about the Staceys’ band is that it rushes you back to the 1970s. Close your eyes and the sound is so like the Steely Dan of old.
‘You will all have to clear off now,’ bellowed Jeremy, as Ronnie’s staff chomped at the bit to prepare for a second sitting and another dose of Steely Dan magic from The Royal Scammers. A shame because the audience wanted more. Do it Again (Can’t Buy a Thrill, 1972) came hurtling into mind.
For those who like Steely Dan – or who just love good live music – Stacey’s crew are performing both on the 28th and 29th September at Ronnie’s (17.30 and 20.30). You will not be disappointed. Far from it. Thrilled to the bone, more like. Do it Again.. and again.